Abraham Maslow

Abraham Harold Maslow

          Abraham Harold Maslow was born April 1st, 1908 in Brooklyn, N.Y. He was the eldest of seven children born to Jewish parents that had immigrated from Russia. Maslow attended City College in New York, transferred to Cornell University after three semesters then he transferred back to City College of New York. He married and he and his wife moved to Wisconsin where he attended the University of Wisconsin. He received his B.A. in 1930, his M.A. in 1931 and his PhD in 1934, all in psychology and all from the University of Wisconsin. A year later he returned to New York to work with E.L. Thorndike at Columbia University. From 1937 to 1951, Maslow was on the faculty at Brooklyn College where he found two more mentors. Anthropologist Ruth Benedict and Gestalt psychologist Max Wertheimer both of whom he admired personally and professionally, so much so that he began taking notes about them and their behavior, which became the basis of his lifelong research and thinking about mental health and human potential.1
          Maslow is mostly noted today for his proposal of a hierarchy of human needs and is considered the father of humanistic psychology. He saw human needs arranged like a ladder. The most basic needs, at the bottom, were physical – air, water, food, sex. Then came safety needs – security, stability – followed by psychological, or social needs for belonging, love and acceptance. At the top of it were all of the self-actualizing needs – the need to fulfill oneself, to become all that one is capable of becoming. Maslow hypothesized that unfulfilled needs lower on the ladder would inhibit the person from climbing to the next step. People who dealt in managing higher needs were what he called self-actualizing people. Benedict and Wertheimer were his models of self-actualization, from which he generalized that, self-actualizing people tend to focus on problems outside of themselves, have a clear sense of what is true and what is...